Ghana Anti-LGBTQ Legislation Flouts Lawmaking Rules, Critics Say

(Bloomberg) -- Ghana’s Supreme Court adjourned a hearing on draconian anti-LGBTQ legislation until July 17, as opponents of the bill sought an injunction to stop it moving forward.

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Amanda Odoi, an academic, and lawyer Richard Sky filed two separate lawsuits challenging the bill, which seeks up to three years in jail for people who identify as LGBTQ. The cases are being heard at the Supreme Court.

Both Odoi and Sky have now asked the Supreme Court to block the bill from being sent to the president for assent until the court rules on its validity. President Nana Akufo-Addo’s endorsement is the last step required for the bill to become law.

If endorsed, the punitive law could jeopardize $3.8 billion of World Bank funding over the next five-to-six years, according to Ghana’s Finance Ministry. It could also derail a $3 billion bailout program from the International Monetary Fund and hurt the country’s efforts to restructure $20 billion of external debt, it said.

Lawmakers introduced the Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Bill into parliament in 2021 as a private members’ bill, which means it wasn’t introduced by the executive arm of government or on its behalf.

Such bills aren’t allowed to proceed if their implementation imposes a cost on taxpayers, argued Odoi’s lawyer, Ernest Ako, citing the constitution. They have to be accompanied by a document showing any associated costs, which wasn’t attached in this case, he said.

The bill, which has been working its way through the legislative circuit over the past three years, was passed by lawmakers in February after multiple readings and public consultations. A first injunction request was rejected last year while it was still being considered in parliament.

Ako argued Wednesday that the bill’s passage and a failed attempt by parliament to submit it to the president have provided fresh grounds for a new injunction request to be made.

The parliament speaker’s lawyer, Thaddeus Sory, argued that any injunction would be “presumptive,” since Akufo-Addo still has the option of sending the bill back to parliament to address “whatever may be deficient.”

Chief Justice Gertrude Torkornoo adjourned the proceedings without ruling on the latest injunction request.

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